We all know that this Sunday is the big game! So I just wanted to take a break from the Linux discussion to remind everyone that Animal Planetwill be broadcasting, on the same day as the big game, an even bigger game! The Puppy Bowl!
The action starts on Sunday, February 3rd at 3:00 P.M. on The Animal Planet channel. Three hours of the best sport around! The Puppy Bowl! It's great family fare! The kids will love it! Repeat showings at 6:00, 9:00, and Midnight EST.
In a nutshell, all you do is create the brush (using Gimp) and save it in the Gimp Brush format. Just make sure this new saved brush is placed in the Gimp's brushes folder. In Linux, this folder is "~/.gimp-2.2/brushes." Then refresh the Gimp's brushes menu (or restart Gimp) and the new brush will appear ready to use. Gimp is powerful and easy to use. and it comes standard with Linux.
I live on a dirt road in a little lake community. The weather lately has been so changeable. Warm, cold, snowy, rainy. Because of the warmer temps, the roads out here have softened up along the berm. Well, it finally happened. In all the years I've been driving this dirt road, I finally slid into a ditch. Not even Linux could pull me out! My neighbor Bill gave a try at freeing my Oldsmobile, but to no avail.
I ended up calling my Mechanic Terry at Quality Tire and he pulled me out one, two, three! Terry's a real pro and really knows cars.
So, it's late. As much as I'd like to write about Linux, right now, I'm a bit tired from the waiting and the pushing and the phoning and the yelling at myself for being so stupid to get stuck in the first place.
Enjoy the above comic.
And be careful on those roads. If bad weather is coming your way, curl up with your laptop and surf the web. And if you use Linux, you won't get stuck (freeze up) like most do with Windows.
One other program I enjoy listening to is The Dave Ramsey show. Dave offers financial advice to his listeners to help them make the most of their money, and more importantly, get out of debt.
It's really amazing to hear callers who have incomes of $150,000.000 a year and are carrying a debt two to three times that. Much of that debt winds up on credit cards.
From listening to Dave's show, the one point he hammers home more and more is for people to understand how to live below their means. That means not buying every new gadget that comes along and learning to pull in your belt a little.
Well, Linux falls right in with that message.
For many families needing a computer, Linux is perfect! It fits into the budget quite easily because Linux is FREE! If a particular Linux distro isn't free, it comes at a very low cost. A cost far lower and more affordable than Windows Vista for sure! And many Linux distributions are family licensed. One copy can be installed on all the family's computers.
Linux is affordable! Families will save hundreds of dollars! Linux software is free, there are THOUSANDS of titles available, and there's no need to buy or subscribe to anti-virus software. Linux is immune to Windows viruses.
And best of all, Linux is easy to use. It's interface is friendly and familiar. Linux does everything Windows does but at a fraction of the cost.
Linux is powerful, stable, secure, easy to use, and makes good financial sense.
I love radio! Ever since I was a kid, I just loved listening to the radio. When I was in second grade, my parents gave me a Toshiba portable radio as a gift for my first communion. It tuned AM, FM, LW, and four shortwave bands. I still have it and it still works. The dials and some of the circuitry need to be cleaned a bit, though. It was a great radio and I would dial all around for talk shows, music, and news programming from New York City, Chicago, Boston and other cites with those big booming signals late at night. I'd also dial in the BBC and other shortwave broadcasters from around the world.
I still listen to the radio while I'm in the studio working on my comic strip or panels or when I'm writing this blog. The radio is always on. With the advent of XM radio, I'm able to get all kinds of programming. And I tend to listen to a lot of talk shows. My favorites lately are computer and technology shows. Into tomorrow with Dave Graveline is a good one that talks about new technology and I really enjoy listening to Leo LaPorte and his "Tech Guy" program.
Leo LaPorte, Kim Komando and other computer talkers offer help and advice to their listeners whose systems may be giving them problems.
Here's the thing that I've noticed. Almost all the callers to these shows are having problems with Windows systems. Every once in a while a Mac user calls in with a problem, but the majority of callers seem to be Windows users. And they tend to have problems with having picked up a virus or piece of spy ware. Ironically, right now as I type this, Leo LaPorte is telling a caller that his problem sounds like his Windows system has a virus. Leo is saying the system is "showing symptoms of a virus."
I used to listen to these shows because I used to run Windows and wanted to avoid having these same kinds of problems. When I switched to Linux, the need for these radio programs pretty much disappeared. I still listen to hear the latest tech news and what new computer products are hitting the market, but I run Linux. I don't worry about windows viruses or spy ware.
I'd just like to say to Leo, Kim and all the other computer talkers out there that the solution to all these Windows problems is simple. Get Linux.
But if everyone did, then you wouldn't have much to talk about.
So, I dug through the holiday photos and found a group photo of me with my nephew and nieces. I blurred the others out (above) so you can see where I am and how I plan to isolate myself.
For this project, and since I use Linux, I'll be using Gimp. Gimp is free with every Linux distribution and it's every bit as powerful as Photoshop. And you can't beat the cost! Free!
The first thing I did was select a rough area around the figure I want to cleanly isolate. I have a couple of challenges. I need to lighten up the area of my right shoulder. That's a wet spot from a dish towel which was slung over my shoulder while washing and drying the Thanksgiving dishes. Next, I have to remove a bit of my niece's chin resting on my left shoulder.
Isolating the figure was quite easy. I simply used the Gimp's eraser tool and very carefully erased around the edges removing all the background pixels and keeping the foreground pixels. Gimp has a very nice brush tool selector that allows you to tailor your brushes so the edges are softer and will gently remove pixels by fading them little by little. You can see, I've left a few stray pixels here and there. (My final image is a bit more crisp.) I clean this up later and leave the edges a bit softer for the purposes of adding a drop shadow. Also, I've used the clone tool to remove My niece's chin. The Wet shoulder area was improved simply by using the burn tool. I had to play with the settings and brush on a few layers, but it blended nicely. I also used the smudge tool to get rid of any hard edges.
Next, I simply used the Gimp's filters (plug-ins) and added a drop shadow. I changed the opacity and softened it a bit. The Gimp is loaded with filters and plug-ins! So much so, you can achieve just about any effect in a mouse click or two. And their are many more plug-ins located right at the Gimp site! It's really amazing how open source software opens the doors to creativity and contributions from Linux users around the globe!
Lastly, I needed a background which wold look interesting. My nephew was wearing a blue checked shirt, so I merely used Gimp's clone tool and cloned that material over and over again into a duplicate background layer.
I cropped and resized and below is the final result. And you can see how leaving the edges of the figure a bit softer aids in convincing the viewer that this is a real photo. The figure doesn't look like a "cutout" pasted on top of a background. Both blend nicely. And because I saved these elements as separate layers in Gimp's native file format (.xcf), I can continue to edit things.
For instance, I can change the color of the background by adding a layer, filling it with color and then changing the color's opacity or the way it is applied in that layer. And in doing this post, I failed to correct the red eye. I was able to do this in couple of clicks. I created a new layer, dropped in a soft dab of blue over each eye, and then changed the layer's properties to color overlay and adjusted the opacity.
The total time for this project was approximately 30 minutes (more or less...I was really enjoying the process and trying out a lot of gimp's tools).
So it's easy to see that anything you can do in PhotoShop (or any Windows/Mac graphics program), you can accomplish with great ease in the Gimp.
Gimp is powerful, feature rich, and easy to use!
I recommend to any parent who's thinking of getting a computer for that young budding artist in the family, to simply get Linux. It's low cost (or free), is loaded with powerful software (Gimp, Scribus,Openoffice, etc.), and is constantly being improved. Plus, it's free from Windows viruses and spy ware.
It's billed as "The Linux Solutions, Open Source & Free Software Exhibition for Business, Administrations and Communities." Many of the more notable Linux players will be in attendance. RedHat, Ubuntu , Mandriva, Novell, Oracle, and many others! 206 companies dedicated to Open Source solutions! Save Now kit's a great opportunity to see everything new in Open Source software and Linux!
If you're not a Linux user (and fan) now, after visiting this event, you soon will be.
OneClickLinux is now a part of the Kioskea.net computing community web site. Simply click on the the Tribune tab of the Kioskea site to get the latest computing news on Linux, hardware, software, technology, and of course select articles from OneClickLinux.
So regardless of where you start your web experience, here or at Kioskea.net, you're always just a click away from Linux information for beginners here at OCL and cutting edge news about the computing world at Kioskea.net!
It's been almost a month since Christmas, and right about now, that new Windows computer you got as a gift on that magical morning may be acting up.
It could be slowing down or maybe you picked up a virus or piece of spy ware from an unfriendly web site. Or maybe you've just become tired of Vista constantly asking for permission to do even the smallest task.
(Or maybe you're one the folks who didn't get a Windows system for Christmas... but your current Windows set-up is definitely not working as it should.)
Well, you may be thinking of finally giving Linux a try. But, you still have a few questions as to how to make the move.
A few years ago on the Linspire Forums (now the Freespire forums), a new member asked the following question:
"i have 2 drives C=XP HOME D=Linpsire....maybe. used to windos doing everything for me so should i just do it or what?? help the new scared one please."
Allow me to translate this cryptic question a bit. The new member has two partitions on their computer's hard drive. Partition C has Windows XP Home Edition. Partition D is empty. The new member is considering installing Linspire Linux to this empty drive, but is a bit apprehensive.
I answered this question with the following advice which I believe is a very good approach in easing your way into using, and understanding, Linux. Even though I was speaking about Linspire Linux, this can be applied to any Linux distribution.
"About 2 years ago, I was in the exact same place you are right now. In fact, it's safe to say that many on this forum were in a similar situation to your own. So, rest assured, folks understand. And with that understanding, comes a great deal of help from the folks up here.
As was pointed out, be verbose, detailed and as exact as possible with any challenges that may come your way.
I call them 'challenges" and not "problems." The difference being, all that is required is a bit of understanding as to the inner workings of Linux. Once you have this knowledge, even a little bit here and there, you can move forward and get your system running properly. Problems only tend to happen to Windows systems.
First things first. Absolutely, run the Live CD. That's exactly what I did at first. I recommend you run the Linspire Linux Live CD for a good month or so. Don't even boot into Windows. Run the Live CD and try EVERYTHING Linspire has to offer. Browse the Internet, configure the email program, play a music file, plug in your flash drive, etc. Get comfortable with Linspire. Make sure your hardware works with Linspire. As issues come up, you can log on to this forum and ask questions. Get as much a background as you can, so once you make that dual boot install, you'll know what to expect and how to react.
Having said all this, if/when you do go for a dual boot install, make sure to do a complete backup of your hard drive. You probably have files that are pretty important. Back those up on a flash drive or USB Hard Drive.
Once you become comfortable with Linspire and understand how things are set up and work, THEN do the dual boot install. And, the installation process is quite easy.
If, for whatever reason, Linspire fails to work on your existing system from the Live CD, then I recommend you purchase a brand new box with Linspire pre-installed. Because, believe it or not, once you run Linspire, you're going to want to buy a new system anyhow. That's what I ended up doing after my dual boot install. Linspire is that good.
This is the same advice I tell folks today. Get that Linux distro from distrowatch.com. Download and burn the .iso file to a CD. Run the Live CD as much as possible. Become familiar with Linux. Join a Linux forum and ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Simply tell the members that you're a new user and want to move to Linux. Believe me, they will help you every step of the way. (The Linux community is incredibly generous with their time, knowledge, and help). And the move is not as difficult as you think. It's quite easy.
And finally, once you do install that Linux distro to your computer, you're certainly going to start looking at buying a new Linux system. Because, now that you have a cutting edge operating system (free from windows viruses, and spy ware), other members of the family will want one, too!
Down under in Australia, you can check out linux.conf.au running from Wednesday, January 30th to Saturday, February 2nd, 2008.
Visit any of the sites and get on their mailing lists for updates and notices. LinuxFests are a great way to meet other Linux users, sample the latest in Linux technology and, if you're a beginner, get a helping hand.
Konqueror is a File Manager, Web Browser and Universal Image Viewer.
Let's focus on the web browsing aspect.
When you open Konqueror, you're given navigation of all the directories on your hard drive(s). To get out to the web, simply type the URL (web address) you wish to access in Konqueror's address bar. Konqueror immediately becomes a browser and takes you to that web destination! It's that easy!
In the above screen shot, you can see my hard drive directory on the left side. But in the main window, I'm accessing Yahoo news. I'm also streaming video of an interview with Senator John McCain, again, using Konqueror in a smaller separate widow.
It's amazing how powerful, yet easy to use Konqueror really is!
Windows has Windows Explorer as its File Manager. Well, Linux (using KDE) uses Konqueror. And Konqueror is much more robust and feature rich than Explorer.
For instance, one of the neatest features, which I always use, is Konqueror's ability to split one window pane into many.
To do this, simply enable the Extra Toolbar in Konqueror (Settings>Toolbar>Extra Toolbar).
A series of window icons appear in the upper left. you can open up panes side by side or one top of one another. Clicking in the pane allows you to navigate to any number of directories on your hard drive(s). You can then move files from one pane to the other simply by dragging and dropping. All without having to open multiple Windows. Get Linux and get a better computing (and File Manager) experience!
Some years ago, I was really taken by a book called The Way Things Work. this book did a terrific job, through illustrations, of explaining how every day technology works.
If you wanted to know how something worked, this was the resource to go to.
In the same way, the community of Linux users who populate the many Linux forums are the resource to go to if you want to know how Linux works.
Linux isn't difficult to use at all. it's amazingly user friendly and very "Windows-like. it's friendly and familiar. But, just like when you first learned to use Windows or Mac, you had a few questions. Well, you may run across a situation or two that requires an answer. The many Linux Forums are the place to go to get this information.
(If you read this blog regularly, I often mention how very helpful the Linux community is when you first start using this wonderful operating system. The Linux community wants you to enjoy using this operating system and they want you to continue to use it, grow with it and help to spread the word!)
At DistoWatch.com, you can download any number of Linux distributions and install them to your PC. Each distribution's page also has links to its user forums. These forums are a wonderful way to gain insight, understanding and information on how to use Linux!
Ubuntu Linux - Ubuntu has become one of the most popular Linux distributions. It is 100% free of charge and has a very active and helpful forum. PCLinuxOS - I've used PCLiuxOS. It's a nice solid and stable distribution and (at the time of this writing) has gained the number one position among all distributions. It has a very active community forum. Freespire/Linspire Linux - I use Freespire Linux a lot. I'm using it right now onmy desktop PC. Needless to say, I love this distribution. Not only because it just works, but because it has a terrific forum community. When it comes to Linux, Freespire users really know how to help new users and pros alike.
Mandriva Linux - Mandriva is one of the larger distributions. You can either download Mandriva One for free or pay a very modest fee for MandrivaPowerpack, their commercial Linux distro. Either way, the forums are filled with wonderful and helpful folks from all around the globe who really know Linux.
Kiowa Linux - Kiowa Linux is based on Mandriva. It combines the best of Mandriva, and RPM distribution , with the best of a Debian distribution. I purchased a laptop from Kiowalinux.com because the folks and their forums are incredibly helpful! When it comes to technical support, Kiowa and their forums get an A+! And their Linux distro is one of my favorites. I really like using it on the laptop. Kiowa is wonderful!
There are many, many other Linux forums. Simply get to distrowatch.com, download any of the distributions available there, and run the Live CD portion (or install to your system). Then join that distro's community forum. Get to know the people up there and you'll quickly see how easy Linux is to use, and how very helpful Linux users are.
Pretty soon, you'll be helping new users yourself. why? Because Linux is friendly and familiar. Linux is easy!
Apple unveiled it's newest laptop, the Macbook Air. It weighs only 3 pounds and is 3/4 of an inch thick. It also costs $1800.00. Now, before you rush out and buy into all the hype, ask yourself, "What do I need in a laptop?"
Well, for starters, it'd be nice to have a DVD Drive so you can play movies, install software, etc. Unfortunately, Macbook Air doesn't come with one. But, you can always buy an external one for an additional $99.00. How about a 15.4 inch screen? Well, on this new laptop, you only get a 13.3-inch screen. Surely, you'll want a 200 gig hard drive for all the documents, pictures, etc. you'll be saving. Nope. The Macbook Air only comes with an 80 gig hard drive.
Now, I'm not trying to be too critical of Apple. They really do a terrific job in innovating computers and other electronics. I'm just pointing out that while this is technically quite cool and an achievement in miniaturization, you're better off getting yourself (and your family) a laptop or desktop computer running Linux.
With a standard laptop, you'll get a DVD drive, a 200 gig hard drive, lots of memory, a nice large 15.4 inch screen, and it'll only weigh in at six or seven pounds. But the nice thing is, you'll get all this at a starting price as little as $600.00 (especially if it comes with Linux!)
Not only will you have a cutting edge Linux Operating System free of Windows viruses and spy ware, you'll also have access to thousands of free software applications, a helpful community to show you the ropes, and $1,200.00 in your savings account!
Overall, Linux is more cost effective yet still gives you cutting edge software and a stable and secure operating system (which is also quite cutting edge.)
Apple makes some nice computer products. But take a look at Linux. Which would you rather have, a lighter computer and a lighter wallet? Or, a heavy wallet and a cutting edge laptop that still doesn't weigh all that much?
The Gimp is a really terrific graphics editing program which stands toe to toe with even the likes of Photoshop.
Gimp sports effects and filters galore so you can achieve just about any kind of result when editing an image.
The really neat feature in Gimp is it's printing capability. The printing routine opens in a new Window where you can size and position your image exactly on the page you are going to print. Select your printer and away you go!
There was a time when "ease of use" features like this were only available on software programs costing hundreds. But Gimp and Linux offer it to you for free!
Most people continue to hang on to their Windows System due to their love of computer games. Well, Linux has hundreds of games in its repository, and the majority of them are free for download!
One such game, which is absolutely addictive, is Frozen Bubble. Frozen Bubble already comes installed on most Linux distributions. If it's not, it's easily downloaded and installed from that distro's repository.
Frozen Bubble is a simple enough game to understand and play. Simply try to knockout all the balls (bubbles) before they come crashing down on you. Each new level brings a new layout and new skill challenge.
Linux has arcade games, interactive games, action games, puzzle games, sports games, role playing games, card games, strategy games, boardgames, games for kids (check out Super Tux, a particular favorite for kids), etc. Simply open your repository (or if you're runningLinspire or Freespire, go to CNR.com), select your game, check it off, Click apply, and it will download and install!
If you really must play Windows games, you can always install Cedega, an emulator which will allow you to install many Windows games on Linux.
So get Linux, lose the Windows viruses and still play great games!
I've mentioned before that Linux is used extensively in the film making industry for effects and animation. This page gives you an entire resource for all the Linux based software tools, both commercial and free.
Freespire and Linspire can install this program via it's CNR.com software system. In a matter of clicks, you can password protect/encrypt your files and folders and lock up sensitive personal information.
How easy is it to use? Quite easy as the user's manual describes,
"Encrypting a File From Konqueror Click on the file you want to encrypt with the right mouse button. Choose Actions->Encrypt File in the pop up menu. You will then be prompted with the Public key selection dialog. Choose the key of the recipient and click Encrypt. The encrypted file will be saved with a .asc or .gpg extension depending on whether you chose ASCII encryption or not.
Encrypting a File or Text With Kgpg's Applet Simply drop your file on the Kgpg system tray applet. If it is an unencrypted file, Kgpg will pop up the key selection dialog (see below). Select the encryption key, and the encrypted file will be saved. If you drop text, the encrypted text will be pasted to the clipboard. You can also encrypt clipboard by selecting the Encrypt clipboard item in applet menu."
A set of screen shots and step by step instruction on how the program gets set up can be found here.
KGpg even gives you a shredder which will shred (overwrite up to 35 times before deleting) files you want to permanently be rid of. KGpg gives you a really nice solution for locking down sensitive information on your Linux computer.
Linux has so many customizing features, you can make your system look as individual as, well, you! For instance, one neat little trick is to change the background of Konqueror.
If you take a look at the above screen shot, you'll see how easy it is to change backgrounds in Linux. Select View>Configure Background. Then, navigate to the image you wish to use or select a color from the palette.
The big "eye candy" in desktop computing seems to be desktop widgets. These are little gadgets that give you any number things for your desktop like weather reports, photo slide shows, streaming news and info, etc.
The Apple Mac has a bunch of these as does Yahoo! for Windows. But probably the best of the bunch is SuperKaramba for Linux! SuperKaramba is community supported and has thousands of little gadgets for your desktop. In the above screen shot, you can see I'm running a weather widget called Liquid Weather as well as a Wikipedia search bar, clock, and space wheel (patterned after the one in the movie2001).
SuperKaramba sits in your system tray and runs in the background. You can you can run any number of widgets at once on your desktop (depending on memory and system resources) Superkaramba makes it easy to install new widgets. Simply open and select "New Stuff." You're then presented with a list of the newest and most popular widgets. Click and install! Then select to run on your desktop! That's it! You can also install widgets you download from kde-look.org.
SupeKaramba really helps to add functionality and polish to your desktop. And since it's community driven,it's free. You can also contribute your own widgets!
But you'll need to get Linux in order to get Superkaramba. Once you have Linux and SuperKarmaba, you'll have one of the best looking, most personally customized desktops around! (And one that is virus and malware free and free from Windows headaches!)
Just about everyone makes predictions for the new year. More than likely, none of the predictions you hear from the pundits are positive in nature. They tend toward the negative. and you hear the whole gamut of doom and gloom: earthquakes, economic recession, war, famine, etc.
Well, I'm going to make a positive prediction for 2008! This prediction will bring you great happiness and peace of mind. Ready? This year, your computer will be VIRUS FREE!
Linux is immune to viruses, spy ware, and malware that plague Windows systems. With Linux, you'll have a safe, secure, and stable computing environment with thousands of free software programs! so, not only will your Linux system not get infected, you'll save hundreds of dollars in software costs!
My prediction will come true, but only if you get Linux.
And once you have a Linux computer, you then have access to thousands of FREE software programs. Programs like OpenOffice for home or office productivity (includes MS Office compatible word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.). Scribus for Desktop publishing. The Gimp for image editing.
Since tax season is looming, you can try Gnucash or KMyMoney to help organize your personal fiances. Plus there are many, many more financial software applications to help you with your checkbook and budgets! And the majority of these programs are open source and free to use and share!
With Windows, you have to buy additional software costing hundreds of dollars! And you're not allowed to share this software with others.
Plus Linux, is immune to windows viruses. So you'll save additionaldollars by not having to buy anti-virus software or endless subscriptions.
The Midwest, Great lakes, and Northeast areas are getting some snow. I just got done moving 8-10 inches of the white stuff out of my driveway. So, it looks like this weekend may be the perfect time to stay indoors, and just kick back.
Why not take in a movie at home? I recommend two movies that will not only entertain, but educate, as well.
The first is called Revolution OS.Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary which details the history and development of Linux, Gnu, and the open source software movement. You'll meet all the main players/programmers who contributed to, and helped develop, Linux. The film is quite informative. After viewing this film, you'll have a much better understanding of Linux.
the second film is a docu-drama of sorts called Pirates of Silicon Valley. Pirates of Silicon Valley is a dramatization of how Apple and Microsoft were founded and developed. You'll learn that the two companies (and founders) repeatedly crossed paths over the years and "borrowed" each other's technology and ideas.
So fire up the DVD player, pop some popcorn and take in these movies this weekend. You'll be entertained and also learn a little bit about how Linux and the personal computer industry developed.
Start 2008 off with fewer headaches and a more secure computing experience. Get Linux!
With Linux, you'll be immune to Windows viruses and other malware. Linux gives you access to thousands of free, powerful software applications and a puts you in contact with a helpful community of other Linux users.
And, with programs like Wine and Crossover Linux, you'll still be able to run many of your needed Window applications, but all within the security and stability of Linux!
So resolve to make the Linux move today! Ring in the New Year with Linux!
OneClickLinux recommends the following Linux computer makers:
LinPC.us LinPC.us systems come with PCLinuxOS 2009.1 completely installed and configured as a working desktop. They also ship a LiveCD to restore your system to a like new state. They've installed current versions of Open Office, Mozilla Firefox and ThunderBird along with K3b, gftp, mplayer, streamtuner, streamripper. A nice setup for getting started with browsing the internet, email, office, playing DVDS, MP3s, etc. Once you have your system up and running, you can easily add any application you need. Just open Synaptic, the software manager and install any of 7000 applications available to every PCLinuxOS user.
Gigastrand International. Gigastrand International will build you a Linux computer with Freespire or Linspire Linux pre-installed. Gigastrand built my desktop computer and it's going on three years of great Linux service! If you do purchase a computer from Gigastrand, refer to my agent number GPA2000.
Kiowa Linux Kiowa is a terrific Linux operating system. I use it on my laptop. The folks at Kiowa have taken the very best of Mandriva, tailored it to their own specs, and made it even easier to use.